YOUNG LIKE US Vishnu’s passion for tennis is sure to pay off. KAMESH SRINIVASAN
He listens to Tamil songs when he is playing tennis around the world. Vishnu Vardhan could have become a singer himself but for his prowess in tennis. The new champ on the Indian tennis horizon, 21-year-old Vishnu has touched a new level by winning the ITF Futures tennis tournament in Delhi recently. One of the key members of the Commonwealth Games programme, Vishnu has followed the footsteps of the 16-year-old Yuki Bhambri, who showed his class by winning three titles on the trot at home in the international circuit.
Confident and clear
Having trained at the Nick Bollettieri Centre in Florida earlier this season, with some of the best players in the world, Vishnu has become more confident about his game and has a clear, tension-free approach. “I don’t think about the results any more. If you concentrate on playing the point well, serving at your best, moving quickly, the rest falls into place”, he says.On the advice of his coach C. V. Nagaraj, who has been training him from 1997 at the Power Tennis Academy in Hyderabad, Vishnu moved out of the juniors after winning the National series under-18 title in 2003. “I had to struggle in the Satellite, Futures and Challenger level for a long time. But, it has been worth it,” he says. Vishnu won the National Grasscourt title in 2007 after having lost the National hard court final to Purav Raja in four sets the previous year.
In the early days, Nagaraj liked Vishnu so much that he made it a point to give the beginner intensive training for an hour every afternoon before sending him to group training for two more hours. After returning from school, Vishnu used to rush straightaway to the tennis court, which was close to his home. In a way, he had a head-start over others.With a strong build, Vishnu plays a robust game backed by excellent concentration on court. This intensity of focus helped him win his maiden title in only his second final. The serve is his biggest weapon, and having trained more on the slow courts, Vishnu doesn’t hurry his shots and plays them with conviction.
“I tried cricket and basketball as a kid, as my father was keen that I should play some sport. When I was not good at them, my mother wanted me to get into music and learn singing. Luckily, I tried tennis during the summer vacation and got addicted to it”, he says.Keen to finish his B.Com (Computers) course this season, Vishnu has decided not to put undue pressure on himself by thinking of earning a place in the Indian Davis Cup team, or try and break into the top-200. “My outlook is to become a better player every time I play a match. If I stick to it, am sure I will get everything that any player wants in the normal course of his career”, he says.The family stays in Hyderabad, Vardhan speaks Tamil at home, as both his parents are from Chennai. A music buff, you can easily spot Vishnu with his headphone, listening to his favourite songs.
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